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Setting up jewelry classes

Hello Richard,

I saw your post on Orchid. Have you taught jewelry classes before? I
have been teaching jewelry classes for the past two and half years at
a Parks and Rec. center. When I was hired the original program had one
class and low enrollment. It has taken me 2.5 years to get the program
on track. We now have 4 classes. The classes are 10 weeks long and
each session is 3 hours. It used to be that each session was 2 hours!
No wonder people would not stay with the program!

I also have two 5 week classes that are �teaser classes� designed
to introduce the curious to jewelry making or for those who can�t
commit to 10 weeks. The 5 week classes are intensive and focus on
either ring making or casting. Students are required to buy their own
precious metal, stones, and some supplies. Most students buy at least
$50 (U.S. dollars) worth of tools and supplies on their own.

What really got the program back on track was my purchase of a new
casting system. Some students can’t fabricate very well and so love
the forgiving nature of wax working or casting leaves, plastic
parts,etc. Casting faceted stones in place is also popular. Acid
etching is somewhat interesting but seems to appeal to those who can
draw. Reticulation is very , very, popular.

I have found that a piercing project, so common in many programs, is
not popular with the elderly who may have dimmished eyesight and
perhaps dexterity problems. Cabochon stone setting is very popular,
however. I would also try to keep their projects small with simple
stone settings. No huge bracelets. Too much heat is required and you
will probably do most of the work. (Voice of experience) Some students
prefer simple wire projects. I don’t like wire craft so had to force
myself to re-learn.

I would say that it is very important on your first class meeting to
have each student briefly introduce themselves to the class and to
find out what their jewelry interests are. This will allow you to make
a quick assessment of their expectations.Also, give a demonstration on
something that is very easy to do. Perhaps punch out a thin gauge
disc, stamp it, dap it, drill it, and hang it on earwires. This is
simplistic, no doubt, but it has a way of getting people interested on
the FIRST class meeting. Piercing frustrates many people,( all those
broken blades) and some never come back after the experience. Make
your first class meeting exciting and make sure everybody has some
success at something.

Also, give them ample examples of the kinds of work that can be made
by beginners.Have lots of pictures on a bulletin board. Bring in cabs
for sale, if you can. Make the purchase of materials very easy. Kits

A woman student told me that most women have a tool phobia. Find ways
to make them feel comfortable. Show lots of examples of women
metalsmiths etc.

Try not to overwhelm with a supply list. I have lost people by
spending too much time on a list.

Be aware that many beginners will take much longer than you realize to
finish a project. You can have a syllabus, this is good for people who
expect structure, and it will encourage students not to be absent on an
important demonstration day. Most jewelry programs are sustained by
RETURNING students. Returning “advanced” students help inspire the
beginners and they can help you teach and will advertise the class for

I rarely check my e- mail but I do check it. I’ll give more feedback
if you need it. But don’t expect a swift response.

You can post this on Orchid if you think this will be helpful to
others. (I haven’t joined yet, can’t figure out what the digest is. Do
you know?)

Good luck, Norman